Oh, that dreaded moment when you open the fridge to grab an egg, and you realize: “I can’t remember when I bought this!”
Eggs are packed with nutritional benefits, including lots of protein and B12. However, eating an off egg isn’t worth it – rotten eggs can cause Salmonella poisoning. If you have any of the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning after eating an egg, go to your doctor immediately.
In a hurry? Eggs definitely do go bad, but they last for weeks until their best before or expiration date, and there are easy ways to preserve them, as well as simple methods to tell if your eggs have gone off.
How To Tell If An Egg Has Gone Bad
The easiest method to tell if your eggs have gone bad is to check the expiration, best before, or sell-by dates on the carton.
Sell-by dates indicate the date the supermarket should throw eggs into wastage if they’re not purchased yet.
Best before dates indicate when you should eat the eggs by to benefit from their optimum nutritional value and to ensure you have no unexpected problems.
Expiration dates refer to the final date the eggs can be eaten. Although people say it’s fine to eat eggs after their expiration date, do so at your own risk!
You can also look for the pack date, which is represented as a Julian date, where every day of the year is chronologically represented by a number from 1-365. If you’re within 21-30 days from the pack date, your eggs should be okay.
There are also some easy-to-spot telltale signs that your eggs have gone bad. Look for slimy shells, which suggest there’s bacteria festering, and powder surrounding your egg, as this can be a sign of mold.
Once you’ve cracked your egg open, any unusual colors – like pink, blue, or green – and your egg should go straight in the bin.
There are also some nifty tests you can perform to find out how old your eggs are, in the event that you’ve chucked the carton. One is the float test. Settle your egg in a bowl of water. If it sinks, it’s fresh, but if it tilts upwards or floats, it’s old.
This works because as an egg gets older, the air pocket inside it gets larger. You can also determine how big this air pocket is by holding a small torch (like a phone flashlight) to the egg in a dark room, and tilting it back and forwards so you can see the contents.
When you perform the light test, the air space in the egg should be thinner than ¼ inch. You can also shake the egg a little and see how much the contents move. Older eggs will be runnier, whilst newer eggs will be firmer and move less.
How To Store Eggs
Big surprise! Eggs actually shouldn’t be kept in the fridge door, despite there being purpose-made trays built in for them.
This isn’t because the fridge door is the warmest part of the fridge – in fact, eggs can be kept at any temperature below 70°F (or 20°C). It’s because the fridge door is subject to temperature fluctuations, and eggs keep best when kept at consistent temperatures.
Therefore, experts suggest keeping your eggs on the middle shelf of your fridge, as this is the area with the most stable temperature.
For leftover yolks and whites, pop them in an airtight container before leaving them in the fridge. Splash a little water on egg yolks to stop them from drying out, and drain the water before cooking or baking with the eggs.
With hard-boiled eggs, put them in an airtight container in the fridge. It’s best to keep them firmly sealed – the gassy hydrogen sulphide smell is nothing to worry about but definitely unpleasant!
Freezing eggs is a bit of a palaver but can be useful in certain situations. Raw whole eggs can be frozen by beating together the eggs and whites until combined, then pouring the mixture into a freezer container and sealing tightly.
You can thaw eggwhites in ice cube trays for quick portions that will thaw fast. However, it’s not recommended to freeze whole eggs, as the whites go hard and watery.
To unthaw your eggs, simply leave them overnight or put them under cold running water.
How Long Do Eggs Last Before Going Off?
There are plenty of ways to keep your eggs fresher for longer, but here are the rule-of-thumb periods for how long your eggs last:
- Fresh eggs will last until the best before date specified on the carton.
- Leftover yolks or whites will last between 2-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Hard-boiled eggs last a full week in the fridge.
- Pickled eggs keep for a month due to their high salt content.
- Frozen, blended eggs keep for up to 4 months.
So, Do Eggs Go Bad?
Yes, eggs most certainly do go bad.
However, there are surefire ways to tell how old your egg is, as well as if it’s off or not. Remember, an old egg isn’t necessarily a bad egg, and a new egg isn’t necessarily a good egg!